• Hello everyone,

    This is probably very often talked about, but I am kinda lost in how to handle my 9 months old B. He has become really reactive towards other dogs, mostly male but also female (even his age or younger), although he has been socialized since he was 4 months.

    We had a group of dogs he'd play with, but at @ 7 months I stopped going there due to some relocation issues and around the same time he started being reactive. We're back now and started going again, but he no longer likes most of the dogs there (he is fine with 3 or 4 that he's most used to), but everytime I let him meet other dogs, even those he has met before, he just jumps at their neck out of the blue, be it on leash or off leash. Tonight he become really aggresive, pulling and screaming to almost biting me because I was trying to restrain him. Needless to say that I left right away, because I just couldn't control him.
    I am not going back there because I feel like it's hurting my relationship with him, because he obviously doesn't like it when I restrain him, but I just don't know what else to do.

    His leash manners are not really there, although it's the thing I've trained most with him (I use a martingale for walks and a harness for 'free' time). I've been doing obedience with him since the first day I got him, he is 99% good in doors, listens just fine, he is also ok outside when there are no hard distractions, or even when there are and I have something better, but I juts don't know how to deal with reactivity/aggression. I've read 2 books already on this and altohugh it's good info, doesn't seem to help.

    He is fine with people, although he is reluctant with meeting new ones, which is understandable, but I'm worried it will get worse with time and we have a baby on the way.

    We don't really have behaviourists around here and I wouldn't let him at a training place because I know how these guys train (mostly by fear). I need some advice from people that actually know the breed and dealt with similar cases.

    PS: Just wanted to add that he has always been somewhat reactive, but in a playful way. He would be really excited to get to the 'playground' and meet & play with the other dogs. In fact, he has always been interested in meeting other dogs, aka pulling and whinning to do so even when not possible. I tried to train this out of him in time, but the circumstances are that there are dogs all around my neighboarhood so it's hard to ALWAYS avoid interactions and train at his threshold. It's mostly dogs inside yards barking, but he always pulls towards the fences.


  • I think part of your pups behavior is due to his age. At 9 months, he's like a teenager. All the teenage boys I've known are a bit touchy, more than willing to "prove themselves", and tend to be obstinate if anyone tells them they are wrong.

    So, you are dealing with 2 issues:

    1. leash pulling
      Step on the leash. When you see a dog approaching, or your pup begins to pull at the lead, allow enough slack to form so that you can step down on it. Your body weight is more substantial and that is going to prevent your dog from getting closer to anything they are trying to get to. You will be surprised how fast a dog will figure out that pulling is pointless.

      Another option would be a 'gentle leader' which forces your dog to face you if they get a certain distance ahead of you. So, if you are using a 6 foot leash, and you are holding 2 feet of it, your dog would only be able to get 4 feet passed your torso before the halter would turn his head back to you. It doesn't require any force, discourages pulling, and is probably an effective tool for teaching one's dog to 'heel'.

    2. excited/aggressive reactions
      Doodle becomes "reactive" with certain dogs... some she knows better than others, and sometimes with dogs she hasn't seen in a while, It seems to be more common if she hasn't been exercised properly. I discourage greeting other dogs while she is on a leash. And, she doesn't get to go to the 'playground' unless she has been on a 1+ mile walk. Somehow the walk calms her a bit. That said, I have learned that Doodle does not have a submissive personality... and will almost bully timid dogs at the dog park. At which point she is put in doggy time-out (i.e.; on her leash and unable to run around and play). Likewise, she won't back down if another dog starts it. Not sure why a good walk is such a cure-all, but it works for us. Perhaps a walk reminds her that I'm the boss and she is expected to 'behave'...


    1. The thing is, he sometimes just ignores other dogs and either minds his own business or looks at me for attention/guidance. Sometimes he just goes nuts at first sight, which is why I always try my best to be 100% engaged and proactive when I walk him.
      I have tried your method before, but it only seems to frustrate him further. He whines and battles the leash, in a over dramatic way, which for others may seem like abuse. I have gotten the eyes or even been told that I am abusive when I do this, even if he would get aggresive and had to pull him back by the collar and restrain him. I do 't usually care about that, but he seems he'd rather continue fighting than relaxing. He sometimes settles for a few seconds, but he is right on the edge and goes at first chance.

    2. This is probably caused by lack of leash manners, too. But what you said seems about right. Just yesterday he jumped on a 1 yo Bucovina sheppered and a 9 month old Akita who responded back and things escalated fast. I had to leave because my B was out of it, growling non stop like he was possesed.
      Unfortunately, we don't have enclosed areas here and we meet on the side of a river, where they can run and play, but roads are near by and my B's recall is not reliable.
      I will try to apply what you said and stick to it.


  • Sounds like he has become dog aggressive as he matures. It's not unusual. What you are describing is dangerous for both him and the other dogs and you may need to consider just avoiding the situation altogether before there is a serious incident. When walking on leash, if he sees another dog and starts to react it may be best to change direction or watch the other dog pass by from a distance. If he is pulling on the leash, don't allow him to continue walking until the leash is slack. Don't allow bad behaviour to be reinforced by him getting what he wants.


  • Don't allow bad behaviour to be reinforced by him getting what he wants.

    That has probably been the issue with taking him to dogplay. Everytime we hop in the car @6-7 PM, he know we are going there and he becomes really restless and excited and it's impossible to get his attention, especially once we get there. And now that I think of it, we've unintentionally reinforced that behaviour. Would going the same way but not stopping there, multiple times, help in that regard? He is fine in the car otherwise (stands all the time, but is not over excited and does not whine).

    During todays walk, I tried to have him more focused on me by just doing lots of U turns on the way to the woods(especially before the fences I know he would pull towards). Then, in the woods, total freedom with occasional recalls and 'leave it'. Got to say that it helped, not 100%, but this is the first time I tried it. When we were coming back, there was actually a stray dog in the middle of the sidewalk so I started doing bunch of U turns like 10 meters away, which didn't seem to help (understandable, first time and also highest distraction for him), so I crossed the road and stopped next to the dog but on the other side. I let my B just look at him and eventually he came back to me at which point I rewarded him plentifully and moved on.

    This being said, I will continue with this twice a day and hopefuly results will show faster.


  • @Lustopher said in Aggressive towards other dogs:

    I will continue with this twice a day

    Awesome! You are off to a good start.

    (You may already do this, but... here are some other things that came to my mind.)
    The environment near the river is going to affect how far your voice will carry, and a whistle carries further than your voice.... if you whistle when you give the come command, you will be helping your dog be a better dog, so to speak. You know, if your dog can't hear you call to him, he doesn't know to come.

    Add some high value treats: bits of cheese, or cooked chicken, or just part of the days kibble. Treats that he only gets if he responds appropriately while on a walk and/or to off leash commands. So, literally, if it's an off day, your pocket is still full when you get back home.

    One other thing that could help would be taking your pup to different places. I attribute part of Doodles reactiveness towards defending "her turf". Look for other walking paths, different experiences and places that would be 'dog friendly'. Mixing it up will help prevent any misconceptions that it's his turf.

    You have entered a very fulfilling stage in your relationship with your pup. This is the transition from having a puppy, to sharing your life with a dog. On the other side is a Basenji that actually appreciates and loves you.

    p.s. I am looking forward to the progress reports. 🙂


  • @Lustopher Welcome to the rutting season ! This is the time of year Basenji bitches in the Northern Hemisphere come into season and the boys know it. They also know that the very survival of the species depends on THEM. Even neutered Basenjis males will get edgy this time of year. My two have started checking up on every dog we meet in the woods - and while some don't mind, others object so I have taken to going earlier and earlier to avoid seeing other people with dogs.
    Have a read (on my own website) of http://zandebasenjis.com/rutting.htm Basenji Boys Have A Rutting Season Too -
    Be firm and it will all settle down again around Christmas !


  • I know this is the second day, but I'm just amazed as to how much more responsive he is. Last night we all went for a walk, and usually he is much more agitated when it's both me and my wife with him (for some reason), but this time around he didn't even care that my wife would sometimes remain behind or would be in front (due to sudden U turns).

    And today, he only had one sudden lunge at a fence, whereas before he would pretty much do it at all fences where he'd hear a dog. But even then, I was ready and as soon as he lunged forward I turned and called him and the leash barely tensioned, he was right next to me in a second. And when we turned around, he was just focused on me and ignored the barking.

    Besides, he seems to be more tired than on a usual walk. He goes right on the sofa or his kennel and lays down. I suppose that all that focus tires him quite a lot.

    I don't know why I haven't applied this earlier, with all the other training. But I guess it's only natural that we all learn from mistakes.


  • Sounds like you are on the right track! Glad things are improving.

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